September is one of my favorite months. It marks the beginning of fall, campfires, football season and hoodies. It also happens to be National Cholesterol Education Month. Cholesterol was a word that I knew at an early age. Grandma was always yelling out across the farm, “Karl, did you take your cholesterol pills?” As a child, I believed that cholesterol was a problem that only old people had. Today, we now know this is not the case. Thanks to the Bogalusa Heart Study, http://tulane.edu/som/cardiohealth/ we have learned that children as young as 5 can begin developing risk factors for heart disease. This study and others like it show how important it is to adopt healthy lifestyles in childhood.
It’s important to know your numbers. Everyone over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years. This is an important matter because one does not feel symptoms of high cholesterol. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it begins to build up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, this build-up can lead to a hardening of the arterial walls which can slow down blood flow to the heart or even form a blockage. Lowering your cholesterol can help lessen the risk for developing heart disease.
The three most important factors that you can control to help lower your cholesterol levels are: DIET, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY and WEIGHT.
Check back on Monday, Sept. 9 for part 2 of the Cholesterol Month Blog series where we discuss diet in regards to cholesterol management.